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Stricken cruise ship expected to be towed into Ensenada on Wednesday [Updated]

November 9, 2010 |  1:02 pm


A cruise ship left powerless by an engine fire is expected to be towed into Ensenada on Wednesday morning, and buses will meet passengers for the trip back to Southern California, the cruise ship company and the U.S. Navy announced Tuesday.


Tugboats are scheduled to bring the ship, with its 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members, into Ensenada, where it will undergo emergency repairs before returning to its home port of Long Beach.

The ship is approximately 160 miles southwest of San Diego, 140 miles from Ensenada.

[Updated, 2:40 p.m.: Ensenada's port director, Carlos Jauregui, said he does not expect the ship to arrive before Thursday morning given the distance it has to travel.]

The Morgenthau, a high-endurance Coast Guard cutter out of Alameda, will stay with the 952-foot-long Carnival Splendor until it reaches Long Beach, officials said.

The cruise ship, on the first day of a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera, had a fire in the generator compartment on Monday, officials said. There were no injuries, but the fire knocked out several systems.

The U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan was ordered into the area to help with the delivery of relief supplies. Planes from North Island Naval Air Station at Coronado are taking 70,000 pounds of food and other items to the carrier, which will transfer the supplies to the cruise ship by helicopter, the Navy said.

The ship's flush toilets are operating, but its air conditioning, telephones and hot-food service are still not working, officials said.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines has promised a full refund for passengers. The company is also investigating what effect the fire might have on other scheduled cruises.

The company is paying the military for the food and supplies, officials said.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A photo released by the U.S. Navy shows the Carnival Splendor, stranded off the coast of Mexico. Credit: U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 3rd Class Dylan McChord / Associated Press